CBC photographer Michael Wilson shares his favourite photos

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Toronto-based videographer and photographer Michael Wilson came to work at CBC Toronto last August, and since that time, his work has been all over our web page and social media accounts. From triumph to tragedy, his photos have helped shine a light on life in Toronto.

As Michael’s time with CBC Toronto comes to an end, we asked him to highlight some of his favourite photos, and explain what they mean to him. Here’s the list:

Rainbow magic

My first assignment with CBC was to take pictures of the food on display at the CNE. This was my favourite picture I took on that day because in addition to one of the foods, it shows someone having fun with it. 

Scheer love of politics

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer launched his 2019 federal election campaign in Vaughan, Ont., by speaking in front of hundreds of supporters. Senior reporter Mark Gollom and I were there to interview and photograph the attendees, but this picture of Scheer after the speech gives a great sense of his interaction with the crowd. 

Ballet school

For the first time ever, Canada’s National Ballet School’s 2019 graduating class had more boys than girls, a remarkable time in the school’s history.

Green gathering

This climate change protest was an incredible experience as I witnessed and photographed tens of thousands of people protesting a worldwide crisis.

High-tech trade

Construction workers are using a project-based application called Procore on their phones, tablets and other devices to help with their projects. For this story I went to a construction site with CBC Business writer Brandie Weikle and took portraits of workers who are helping to bring high tech to their trade.  

Toronto champs

The day before the Toronto Raptors’ home opener, the Larry O’Brien Trophy was on display at Nathan Phillips Square. Fans had their pictures taken with the team’s first ever NBA championship trophy, and the line stretched all the way around the water in the square. Even Toronto Mayor John Tory had his picture taken with the trophy, and he also went down the lineup and spoke with fans. It was an amazing experience to photograph hundreds of excited fans.

Tailgate party

This was the night the Toronto Raptors unveiled their first championship banner and received their first rings. Jurassic Park was open, so people could watch this on the jumbotron outside Scotiabank Arena.

Labour disruption

ETFO president Sam Hammond gave a news conference about whether or not teachers would go on strike, protesting budget cuts that the Ford government made to the province’s education system. A number of elementary school teachers showed their support by standing with him. For me, this was the beginning of a story I helped cover several times.

So cool

Idina Menzel (Elsa), Kristen Bell (Anna) and Josh Gad (Olaf), came to the Scotiabank Theatre for Toronto’s Frozen 2 Premiere. This event  was one of my most memorable assignments because I have two five-year-old cousins who love Frozen, and I was able to tell them I took pictures of the actors who voiced their favourite characters.

Behind the scenes

Sometimes I took behind-the-scenes pictures of CBC staff members in the field or in studio. For this shoot, I took pictures of Ed Middleton and Patrick Morrell shooting drone footage of cranes in downtown Toronto.    

On Nov. 5, 2019, Margaret Atwood was interviewed at the University of Toronto about her new book, The Testaments, a sequel to her 1985 hit, The Handmaid’s Tale. The interview aired on Nov.18 — her 80th birthday. For this shoot, instead of taking pictures, I shot video of her on a slider. This was a particularly memorable assignment because I met one of Canada’s most famous authors, and helped film an interview that aired on CBC’s The National.

All lit up

After winning the Rogers Cup and U.S. Open in 2019, Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu lit up the Eaton Centre’s giant Christmas tree and was welcomed by hundreds of fans. This was an incredible event to witness and photograph, especially because I had never seen the tree being lit before. Having a Canadian champion be the one to light it made it extra special.

Canadian tennis champion, Bianca Andreescu lights the 108-foot Christmas tree at the Eaton Centre on Nov. 14, 2019. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Hockey hero

Before the NHL season was paused, former Zamboni driver and emergency goalie David Ayres stepped in for the Carolina Hurricanes and helped them beat the Toronto Maple Leafs. Later that month, he donated the stick he beat the Leafs with to the Hockey Hall Of Fame, letting me take pictures of a historic moment in the NHL.This marked the first time that pictures I took made it into Hockey Night In Canada’s website and social media posts.

Trudeau in Brampton

In January, I photographed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visiting ABC Technologies in Brampton. He met the staff members there, and gave a news conference about COVID-19.

Ford in Toronto 

In addition to federal politicians, I have also photographed the premier of Ontario. Here, Doug Ford is speaking at a conference at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada Convention.

Litter problem

During COVID-19, people have been littering personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves.

Market slide

Toronto’s real estate market is one of the many Canadian industries thrown off balance by the pandemic, and this photo has been used in stories both in Toronto and across Canada.

Under the boardwalk

A family of foxes is living under the boardwalk and rocks at Woodbine Beach. This was my favourite story in May because I rarely see foxes, and along with the other people nearby, I was able to spot two baby foxes that ventured out from under the boardwalk.

Off-limits

Part of my job has been documenting how the pandemic has affected Toronto. Due to COVID-19, Cibola Playground on the Toronto Islands is taped off until further notice. Taking pictures during this time was different because there were so many closed places and empty spaces, including playgrounds, that would normally be busy during the day. Almost everywhere you go, there is at least one person wearing a mask.

Fun in the sun

In the last week of May, Toronto’s weather quickly went from somewhat cold to scorching hot. During this time, I shot photos of these people at Balmy Beach.